There are a lot of old feelings in this house,” says Tiffani Thiessen when we visit her Los Angeles residence, a 1920s compound on just under an acre that was originally home to Jack Warner, founder of Warner Bros. Studios. Her aquamarine eyes widen for emphasis. “We’ve been here 11 years, and it’s calmed down a lot. But you know, there’ll be voices, stuff turning on out of the blue—that sort of thing,” she says, decidedly nonplussed. “For some reason, it’s not scary. I mean, can you imagine the old Hollywood parties and the people who’ve come through here?”
We’ve just met her, of course, but this statement seems like quintessential Thiessen: the pregnant actress—best known for her roles in such ’90s TV classics as Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210—has already offered up gourmet tea sandwiches and watermelon wedges and invited us on a tour of her chicken coop. What’s more, her new Cooking Channel series, Dinner at Tiffani’s, features her real-life celebrity friends (Jason Priestley among them) coming over to drink, dine, and chat in unscripted real time. While others might view lingering spirits as a deal breaker, Thiessen takes a gracious-hostess approach.
The 41-year-old burgeoning lifestyle personality, who grew up down the coast in Long Beach, discovered the three-story property in 2004 while engaged to her now-husband, actor Brady Smith. “We were set up on a blind date in 2003,” says Thiessen, who recalls a friend’s initial description of him as “a diamond in the rough.” Clearly, she’s adept at spotting potential: despite the outdated decor (“lots of mirrors and gold and faux-painted wood”), she and Smith felt a connection to the house, and soon after their purchase set about revamping the interiors room by room.
Given her predisposition toward the culinary arts, the kitchen shot to the top of Thiessen’s list of priorities. She was also pregnant at the time with Harper, the couple’s almost-five-year-old daughter. “There are windows above the sink, and that was a big selling point for me; I envisioned being in the kitchen and watching our kids out in the yard,” she says. The space was transformed with walnut floors, a double refrigerator, Silestone countertops, and custom cabinetry painted white. The couple built an entire wall around a vintage “Smith” sign they uncovered at L.A. haunt Big Daddy’s Antiques, surrounding it with Thiessen’s collection of cookbooks, whose authors range from Donna Hay and Gwyneth Paltrow to Curtis Stone and Bobby Flay.